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Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Through Glass Steagall darkly

George Osborne, shadow chancellor, has suggested splitting up banking groups between their commercial and investment arms, to prevent them from using high street deposits for more risky ventures.

The financial crisis has prompted some analysts to dust off the idea of so-called "narrow banks", which would enjoy taxpayer protection but face strict restraints on their lending activities.

Gordon Brown has explicitly rejected such a "rigid divide", along the lines of the Glass-Steagall laws, which were introduced in the US following the Great Depression in 1933 until they were repealed under Bill Clinton's administration in the late 1990s.

That is all the reccommendation you need to decide to do it.

Alex remembers when he was a VP at a large US commercial bank in the 1980's. The predecessor to the FSA (possibly the TSO, but I don't rememnber) required everybody working in Corporate Finance to take the Registered Representative exams which were all about the stock market, one of the areas in which we could not deal. The regulators were completely out of touch.

Some things never change.

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